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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  February 27, 2011 12:00am-1:00am EST

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a different kind of johnson would not have had to go along with everything that the republicans had wanted to do. one of the things that he did do that i didn't try to convey, and i talk about it in the book. is that his recalcitrants gave aid and comfort to other southerners. you know, we would have accepted anything in the immediate aftermath of the war. we would have accepted anything, any terms but approximate -- but he gave us hope of a white man's government so we held out. so i think the role that he played -- i think it's the symbolic role of the president as leader that i think was really important. if he didn't -- hadn't so strenuously opposed voting rights. if he had not sabotaged efforts to bring about land reform -- that is not to say the south
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would have rolled over, you know, but when you have the enemy down, you know, prostrate -- when you got them down, that's when you impose terms and you move forward. and rumors people said, you know, he -- his actions emboldened them to be recalcitrant, to pass the black codes to be, you know, sort of tamp down the -- tamp down any move for transformation. so it would not have been the land of milk honey. the south would not have rolled over and accepted blacks as equal citizens. but it wouldn't have been as bad as it was. and, you know, that -- a lessening of the problem -- any lessening of the oppression, i think, would have made a big difference. ..
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>> and understood the importance of the you knowon. but because of his own personal character, the character issue, was unable to see through the transformation of the self. because to him, that was against everything that he believed. >> please join me in thanking annette gordon-reed. >> she's a history profession. she's the author of "the
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helmingson's of monticello." her book is part of the president series. to find out more visit >> you are watching booktv on c-span2. 48 hours of nonfiction books every weekend. >> on february 16th of this year, the borders bookstore group declared bankruptcy. joining us on booktv to discuss the impact of this bankruptcily is sara wynnman who is news editor of publishers place. how did they get to the point to declaring bankruptcy? >> i think it's been a long time in coming. as quarter after quarter, borders have been losing money, they've also gone through a number of management changes, especially at the top. they've gone through i think
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something like four ceos in the last four years. but this story can also date back to the beginning of the 21st century, i suppose. things like outsourcing their web site to amazon in 2001, and they didn't reclaim it until 2008. their ebook strategy was never at the same level as say amazon with the kindle, or barnes & noble with the nook. combining off the of the additional factors that has been impacting, especially on the print side in combination of mismanagement, it really didn't come as a particular surprise that borders declared chapter 11. >> host: sarah weinman, you mention the amazon connection. what did they do with amazon, and what kind of mistake was
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that? >> to reiterate, back in 2001, when they had their own web site. instead of running their own e commerce, selling books themselves, they passed to that amazon. they were giving up revenue to their competitor in order to essential lick make certain things easier. it was something of a devil's bargain. they didn't own their own online property. by the time they changed direction, i they, i think, a new ceo who said this was not a very good idea. in reclaiming it in 2008. by then, amazon had already introduced the kindle, the nook was already into work. it wouldn't be introduced until 2009. when borders did develop it's own ebook strategy in selling some additional ereaders, they just never were able to catch up in terms of appropriate market share. >> host: what happens to the borders ebook reader, the
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cobo? >> guest: well, cobo says that any ebooks that have been bought through borders web site are, i believe, in their words perfectly safe. the side point, but it's interesting that cobo's other partner in ah stale -- australia, which franchising the borders name, they have also declared bankruptcy over there. so i'm hopeful that cobo's assertion are indeed true. i think it'll be interesting if the ebooks are indeed safe and people can reclaim them and read them and so on and so forth. >> host: borders has about 642 big box store. how many are they closing? >> guest: they are closing 200. the going out of business sales are starting tomorrow. i believe that the liquidation sales already 20 to 40% off.
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they are believe started shuts down the cafes. it will be apparent walking into the 200 stores designated for closure that you'll see the going out of business sale signs and be able to get the books, cds, dvds, and other appropriate merchandise at those prices. >> host: why is it that barnes & noble has been able to maintain the strategy? is it all about the ebooks? >> guest: i don't believe it's all about the ebooks. it may come down to this, barnes & noble certainly most recently, they are run at the top by people who value books more than anything else. with respect to borders, especially because there's been some a tremendous turn of management changes, they brought in people from outside companies who had experience in general retail who may not have realized that their experience did not necessarily translate into
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what's appropriate for the book business. the book business is very quirky, and it's not always been the best fit with respect to what public companies in particular need. for example, expecting and demanding higher and higher profits, the book business is on a tight margin. 1% is aboutage, you are lucky if you great up to 3%. as a result, this sort of uncomfortable fit operated by people who weren't as experienced as how the book business worked probably added to borders troubles. >> host: will you look at the bricks and martyr business of book sellers, what do you see in the future given what's happened to borders? >> guest: it's interesting that you say that. i'm starting to believe more and more we may also be witnessing the natural end of the chain bookstore business. which essentially started in the late '80s and early '90s when borders expanded, when
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barnes & noble expanded, and we started see the massive super stores that stood alone. some of them were part of mals, but most of them were entities that you could drive up to and park your car, and be part of the greater experience that's just browsing for book. in hindsight, i wonder if we were perhaps fooling ourself that is this could last as long as it did. maybe 20 years was the natural life cycle for such a thing. we'll see as digital sales keep growing, perhaps we'll see a great preponderance of smaller independent stores. a number of them had opened. they face many of the pressures that have been debated over the last, i'd say, decade. but the ones that have opened and have a certain business askment, and are trying to engage, and develop even a small ebook strategy, they seem to have the best chance for survival. i think we'll hopefully see more of those. the ecosystem is going to change.
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it will certainly impact how publishers perhaps sign up authors and what sort of advances they are paying and what books will be most visible. but to say that the shrinking of the chain bookstore business means that the book industry is dead is a connection that i would be deeply uncomfortable in making. because there are too many sign that is are pointing towards more optimistic waters. >> host: who are some of borders biggest creditors and what have they said since the filing? >> guest: well, on the unsecured creditor side, the biggest one is the penguin platinum group, which i believe is owed $41 million. after that, most the major publishers, simon and schuster, $33 million, harper-collins, mcmillan, and so on and so forth.
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i believe the only publisher that have issued a statement is penguin. others have stayed mum. they are the largest secured creditor which are bank of america which held the credit agreement. they are still owed $2 00 million. ga capital had $50 million as well. they have to pay off the banks and biggest publishers, and landlords are trying to get whatever they can, as well as additional creditors. borders owes about $300 or so million to venders. and they still have to figure out how they are going to get paid. >> host: can, in your view, borders emerge from bankruptcy or with it's remaining stock of stores, et cetera, become a profitable company? >> guest: i think it would be wonderful to see them emerge as a smaller, leaner, more profitable company. i apples believe that many of the factors that have enabled
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them to go into bankruptcy may not be so kind and forgiving. so my mind a little too much with what happened when they went into chapter 11 administration and went through the court in late 2008 and realize would they didn't have a business plan and went into chapter 7. numerous reported have indicated that publishers are not happy with what borders seems to have in mind. their top priority, for example, seems to be highlighting their borders reward plus card. but if customers come in and they know the company is in trouble, do they want to redeem the rewards plus or sign up for a membership in a company they feel doesn't have a future? i think unless borders has a rock solid strategy as to how they are going to survive, they may suffer the same fate as circuit city. at the same time, i don't think we're going to know for several months. >> host: sara, new editor of
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publishers marketplace. thank you for joining. >> guest: thanks so much for having me. >> visit to watch any of the programs that you see online. type the author or book title in the search bar on the upper left side of the page. and click search. you can also share anything that you see on easily by clicking share and selecting the format. book tv steams live online. >> m.i.t. american history professor pauline mayor is on "in depth." including from resistance to revolution, and her latest "ratification." join her three-hour conversation with pauline maier.
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watch previous "in depth" programs at where you can find the entire weekend schedule. >> here are a couple of upcomes book fairs and festivals from around the country. >> coming up next on booktv,
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william mcgowan says "the new york times" has adopted a liberal agenda. he says the newspaper has tarnished it's reputation as a trusted news source. he presents his argument in a debate with michael tomasky, american editor at large for the guardian. >> exciting moment for journalism. you know, people a year ago, two years ago were talking about that journalism is dead. newspapers were in terrible shape. we've gone through than extraordinary stretch. you probably saw this morning that aol acquired "the huntington post." >> what did i say? >> people call it the huffington. >> or "the huffington post." last thursday or friday rupert rupert murdoch announced "the daily" an ipad only newspaper.
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a few months ago, the daily beast asobbed newsweek, or the other way around. we've seen situations in which there's now some original content that occurs only online. i mention two sources. "the fiscal times" and those that want to follow new york" the pragmatist." something exciting. one the good things has been the web panel of the web site "new york times". it had a rocky start and has caught it's stride. a lot of good content. the title of tonight's discussion. "new york times," is it good for democracy? >>a better question wouldn't hae been as provocative, on balance, is "the new york times" good for democracy? that question we can give yes, but, and no, but answers with a lot of variations in between.
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with that, let me introduce our two speakers. mike tomasky is editor of democracy, a journal of ideas. quarterly of journal based in washington. [applause] [applause] >> deserved of applause. [applause] [applause] >> he's also the american editor at large for the british guardian, where he writes a blog. he'll give you the address of his blog. it's too complicated for me. i have it earmarked. he's also frequent contributor new york review of books, he was the editor of the american prod spect from 2003-'06, before that he was a columnist at "new york magazine" and author of "hillary's term," and "left for dead." his work has appeared in "new york times," harpers, et cetera.
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both of these gentleman have experience. bill mcgowan author of "the only man is vile." the tragedy of sri lanka. which one prestigious award, which i unfortunately neglected to note, and coloring the news, how political correctness has corrupted the american journalism for which he won an award in 2002. former editor, he's reported for newsweek, "bbc," ""new york times," "washington post" wednesday a variety of other publications on and offline. a regular contributor of book reviews, he's been a commentator on fox news, cnn, msnbc, and cnr. he's been a media fellow at the social philosophy and policy center and lives in new york city. which is why he was almost late today. [applause]
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[applause] >> our format is simple. each mike will go first -- bill will go first. they have discussed this between them. bill will go first, in part this is presentation is based on his new book "gray lady down" about "the new york times". he will go first for 20 minutes. mike will respond for 20 minutes. we'll have 15 minutes of rebuttal and sir rebuttal. then we'll open the floor to you. just one suggestion, more than a suggestion, a strong request, when you ask a question, make it a question. no speeches, identify yourself, who you are, are you with an organization in particular that you want to identified with and then ask a pointed question. let's begin. >> i'd first like to say thank you to fred for organizing this, and to frank for lending us this lovely space. it's nice to be back in the
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borough of my birth and parents birth, and it's nice to see my brother who lived here as well, retired police sergeant and the graduate of st. francis. nice to see michael who i knew what in the '90s. and so let's get going. i think the best way to start, i'd like to take y'all back on a little trip in time. we're heading back to the year 1972. it was somewhere analogous period to today. the u.s. was involved in decisive and disappointing military intervention overseas, and culture war at home. instead of red versus blue, it was hippy versus hard cats, or hard hats versus hippies. into that shaped william f. buckley's review. the bible of conservative. in september of 1992, they published an article about "the
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times" with the headline is it true what they say about the times? it was co-written by john and patrick, one a former operate at the new york telegram, and the other the assistant of national review. at that time, he was railing against the press, and the negativism incidentally a phrase written by william sapphire who soon went to work for "the times." richard was livid over the papers, and conservatives, some in in in democrats were upset about the endorsement george mcgovern. they were charges of left-leaning bias. conservatives long dismissed "the times" of liberalism, bias beyond redemption. the national review asked to what extent was the based? it examined five issues that
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they said fell along a left-right cleft. (james buckley 1970 run for his senate seat, the anti-ballistic missile treatly in 1969, and failed nomination of mr. haynesworth, and north vietnam. the national review concluded, surprisingly, where the new standards of "the times" were bd ly emanated, the nation would be far better informed and more honorly served. this was clearly a tribute to the journalism practiced by abe rosenthal. he was executive editor, and journalism based on professional
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detachment as much as possible, impish -- impartiality. it was important to keep the right hand, because the newsroom would naturally drift to the left. he believe there should be no editor needles in which reporters used their personal or political opinions to go after anybody. he believes there should be no quotes that were either unattributed or made somebody look bad that weren't fair. rosenthal was raid -- was paid -- patriotic, and weary of conflicts amongst the reporter. when he found out a woman he hired had an affair with the politician in philadelphia, maybe the mayor, he fired her and said, i'll pay deference to
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the fact this is a catholic institution. i don't care if my reports bleep the elephants, if they do, they can't cover the circus. let's fast forward a bit. it's 2003, in the wake of the jason pledgerrism scandals, tv comedians having a field day. "the new york times" has a new slogan, we make it up. in the summer of 2004, daniel who was the papers first public editor, or readers advocate, an office that was created in response to the jason blair scandal, published a column called headlines as the times of liberal newspaper. he answered that question in his lead with, of course it is. if you think "the times" play it down the middle of decisive social issues, you are reading the paper with your eyed closed. in october 2004, just a few
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months after the column, jay of the "national review" echoing many conservatives wrote a repudiation, advocateing going timesless. this is a far cry from the '72 article and buckley's assertion that doing without "the times" would be like going without arms and legs. there were a lot of other controversial issues in 2005, 2006. there were charges that "the times" was a treason organization for publishing scoops on the national security agency electronic surveillance of terrorists and terrorism suspects both at home and abroad. there were demonstrations outside "the times" that called the times the al jazerra times. then in 2011, we have wikileaks
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and the dump of state department diplomatic cables. again, their accusations of treason, denouncements, proclamations of possible prosecutions from officials, probably blowing smoke for public consumption. let me say right here, i don't advocate going timesless" i don't think it's treasonless, although i don't think it's sense of postnational patriotism is the same. i think we'll get into that later. i certainly don't think it should be bombed, as ann culture said. i read the times since i was a kid. i was crowd early to be published prominently in it. i consider "the times" an important national resource, albite a dangerous one, and one the new yorkers that prefer to it simply as the paper.
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i'd wonder down to get the next day's edition. if i was out of town and couldn't find it, i'd get withdraw symptoms. sadly those days, that young man, and "new york times" are gone. it was considered the gold standard of american journalism, and institution was considered central to the public discourse and policy debates at the core of our democracy. and our shared civil life, yet, i don't think for this generation "the times" could be called from dwight mcdonald said it was for his generation. the principal point of contact with the real world. nor can it be seen, i think as it was once put as necessary proof of the worlds existence. a barometer of it's pressure and successor of insanity. some may not care. some may think it's relevant. i think it's more necessary than ever because much of the new media don't have the resources or talent and money that "the
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times" does nor the author. nor can they provide the common narrative as a nation and knew tar form of establishing what's true and what's not. these times still might demand "the times" but they certainly demand much better times than we are getting. a lot of people focus on the decline of "the times" by citing some of the big ticket scandals and financial problem. i'd rather focus on everyday reporting. i think to be sure "the times" still can produce impressive journalism and it can serve democracy quite well, it was excellent on the bp oil spill. i think it served democracy quite well by showing some of the diplomatic and strategic wonders of the bush administration in the first couple of years of the iraq
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intervention. i think it's been pretty good on the plight of ordinary people during the recession. i don't think it's been particularly good on obama's solutions to the recession. but i think it's humanized and brought home the suffering and ordeal that a lot of people are going through. unfortunately, a tide of left liberal, politically correct orthodoxy has caused the paper to drift from political and social information to that of a partisan cheerleader. the editorial panel has always followed it's own agenda. the problem is the perspectives in the editor page has bled over into the news report and are spread between the lines of news reporting. bill keller has said "times" practices verification. i would say it practiced a journalism of values projection. and that bias, there's really no
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other word for it, has created the journalism at odds with it's historical mission of rendering the mission without fear of favor. it has created journalism at odds with the liberal democratic values it's long stood for. even if you do support a more partisan "times" and there are those they should take up like they do in europe, britain in particular. even if you do support a more partisan "times" and self-identified ideological committed journalist in the room, i think there's still cause for concern. the liberal values these ideological committed progressives generally stand for are often very ill served by the very paper that they embodies them or said to embody them most. john dewey, the great professor, educator, professor, and philosopher is credited with
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defining the vital habits of the democracy. these were the ability to follow an argument, to grasp the point of view of another, to expand the boundaries of understanding, and to the alternative purposes of what might be pursued. yet, i don't think "the times" measures up to this standard. i think instead of expanning the boundaries of understanding, "the times" has narrowed them. i don't think it gives enough sense to the alternative pursuits, and i think instead of raising the tone and make it intellectually sophisticated, "the times" journalism often oversimplifies it and dumbing it down for the debate. i think that here i'd like to go into a couple of issues where the faulty journalism and biases have not enhanced but impaired
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our democratic culture, our democratic processes, and our democratic policymaking. this material, as fred mentioned, a taken largely from my latest book "gray lady down." it's the shortest, and weighing in at 360. i'm going to have to skim the tree tops to meet the time limit. if anybody wants to go into deeper detail in the q & a, please feel free. i'll try to stay out the weeds, so to speak. the issues are race and affirmative action, seven -- second immigration and diversity, and the third the war on terror. these are the three issues in the book that are best presented, also the three issue that is bare on our democratic life in the most important way. if i have time, el get into the affect of the "the times" journalism on the tone and tenor of our culture which is both the
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seed of our democracy and it's reflection. turning to race and affirmative action, i lead that chapter with a story that former executive editor of the times told about being in philadelphia and mississippi the year of 1966, watching as a group of reporters were standing in a circle with some activist holding hands and singing we shall over come. he felt it was inappropriate and didn't join in. that sense of professional detachment, very much a product of the institutional culture that was drilled into every reporter during the rosenthal years has not endured. today when it comes to the issue of race "the times" is sitting front and center singing in the choir. it's singing with agusto. racial engagement and diversity now governs the personal policy of the newsrooms, but even more so the political sensibility behindmost of it's coverage. i think we see that in stories
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that involved historical racism. in justices and atrocities of the past. some are newsworthy. things concerning the trial of emmett till, of course, newsworthy. others are more to stoke racial guilt. they seem to be printed in pursue of the emotional reparations. there's a certain script that "the times" will report on which involves white oppression and black victimization. we see that in it's reporting on criminal profiling. it's one the time's hobby horses where it will get ahold of some report usually by a liberal think tank and will go to town three or four times in the space of a couple of weeks. and report that there are more black kids being stopped and frisked than white kids in certain neighborhoods. we also have victimology in the
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coverage of the katrina catastrophe. in one case, there was a major hoax perpetrated on a reporter who used a self-described victim of the katrina catastrophe to present herself as a victim of the bureaucratic inertia that had her hold up in a flee bag hotel in queens, and having to go four or five trips to the hotel, her children all living together with her. in fact, she had never been anywhere near katrina when it struck. she said she was bilic -- biloxi, she didn't have custody of the kids, and she was never in the hospital. instead, she was wanted for check fraud. she was arrested shortly after "the times" piece ran, and shortly after that, "the times"
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standard editor issued a memo saying to the reporters we'll have no more single source stories. she took her at her word and never checked any of the public records that were available to check. we have the awful story of the duke rape chase. which stuart taylor, a journalist at "the national review" wrote a book. a fable of evil rich men abusing poor black woman. it was a story that was too good to be true. too delicious. he said "the times" should take out a billboard in times square and apologize. they never did. there was never an editorial note to readers or anything acknowledges just how bad "the times" reporting had been, how much had slandered the lacrosse players in question, and how much it needed to take
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account for what it had done. i look at black politicians, historically the treatment of malcolm x. in 1965 when he was assassinated, "the times" said he was extraordinary and twisted. they also said his ruthless believe in violence. in 2004, it referred to malcolm x as a civil rights giant. then there's al sharpton. al sharpton has more lies than a cat. when you think of just what kind of racial arson and agitation this man is responsible for, the riots in crown heights, and most -- i think one the worst was his role in the massacre at freddy's market up on 125th street in harlem. where eight people were killed,
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was that the case? >> seven or eight. >> seven or eight people were killed. sharpton had gotten on the radio and said we will not stand by and allow them, meaning white landlords, in fact, the landlords were black, we will not allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business. one very bright commentator, one the sharpest pencils in the box, wrote one time that the memory hole into which freddy's disappeared fits the pattern of mr. sharpton's political career. after every outrain, he draws in the press, and selected roots, i think he's referred to "the times" and says he's really changed. in the new york magazine and "new yorker" came after the hoax. i would mention after the freddy's massacre, who was a
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story in "the times" sharpton buoyant in a storm. [laughter] >> we have jesse jackson's love child. now the double standards there are pretty vivid. i think if ralph reed had fathered a child out of wedlock and had used his organization's funds to support her, that would probably be bannered on the front page of the paper. instead jesse jackson's similar actions were buried on page 27 in a single column. obama, "the times" is in bed with him since the beginning. they delayed for an entire year stories about his relationship with the reverend jeremiah wright that they should have gone into and shamed into it. abc news got video, and it was
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after that jodi canter started writing what wright was all about. they allowed obama to get away with his relationship to the former weather terrorist, bill ayers, david axelrod said he was just somebody he knew from the neighborhood that kids go to school together. they had a relationship over ten years in several venues and a couple of foundations. they were closer. i would like to switch to immigration and just look at how much immigration has been seen as a -- they said in the 1993, when seems when you look at mass immigration, we have reverted to a massive policy of immigration without ever making a decision
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to do so. i don't have this in the book. i did do a paper on it about the 1965 immigration reform acts. which essentially lifted the racialistic, national origin quotas at the time both the democratic party which backed it and "the times" which took it's cues from them said it would not swell the rolls of immigrants with third world -- wouldn't change the demographic character of a country, nor would there be millions of people lining up. in fact, both have happened. whether the demographic change is good or bad makes no difference to me. what is important this was a huge pivot, pivotal period and moment and "the times" was completely at a loss. since then "the times" has followed a proimmigration script.
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this goes particularly in areas like alien criminality. there was one case where the el salvadorian gang ms-13 actually sent an assassin up to new york to kill an i.c.e. agent. they got the guy, but "the times" never did the story. one the immigration activist said what's it going to take for them to pay attention? do they need the beheading of a federal judge? another way they have treated immigration without the gravity that they should. the issue of alien -- sanctuary cities which came up in the 2008 republican presidential primaries, sanctuary cities being places where immigrants are allowed to live without having to worry about their
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documents being checked or any kind of ramifications from crimes committed that aren't serious felonies. gail collins said that sanctuary city was the just a right wing buzz word for freaking out red state voters. she said it had a sci-fi ring. next time you hear a political ranting, say wasn't that where keanu reeves was trying to get to in the "matrix." on dual citizen -- give me a minute and i'll wrap up. duel citizen, pleading to duel loyalties. it's been soft on islamic integration. it won't go near issues of the different customs and values and attitude that is are, think i,
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profoundly aunt democratic, involving the submission of women, involving female genital mutilation, polygamy, and the issue of horn -- honor killings which is an issue around the country. but you wouldn't know it from "the times." i'd also get to the idea that "the times" has been soft on the ideological nature of islam on what they featured. they featured anwar. at the time, he may have given harbor to two of the terrorists and several of the terrorists may have been praying at his mosque in brooklyn. he's since become the major jihadist prograndist.
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i say it invotes demagoguery. when people called into capitol hill against the immigration vote, their columnist called it they were just robots doing what their party leaders had told them to do. and then they invoked the nativism that it's just what's part of our history. nativism. on the war on terror, i'll just close by saying that -- that soft on islam approach when it comes to immigration is projected into the war on terror. the war on terror is seen, the tools used to fight the war on terror are seen as more dangerous to american democratic life than the threat that islamic jihadist represents. i think this comes from a set of ideas about the nature of militant islam. it doesn't want to admit it. i think the europeans probably could teach us a lesson on that.
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there's too much likening of the crack down on muslim suspects and those who might give them sucker to the palmer raids which took place in world war i and the japanese. these are completely different historical occurrences, but "the times" tends to lump them altogether. in conclusion, i would say -- i'd like to get into some of what i can't get into the rebuttal. but i just want to pose a question. one of thomas jefferson's most famous quotes was that he'd rather live in a nation without a government than a nation without newspapers. and i wonder if he was reading "the times" right now if he'd say the same thing. thank you very much. [applause] [applause] >> okay. >> yes.
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well, i'm in a slightly odd position here, i think, because i don't work for "the new york times" i'm not a spokesman for the "the new york times," i'm paid by the newspaper that is arguably, no probably in terms of world audience and looking to the future with web over taking print, i work for the paper that is probably "times" greatest competitor. maybe you should denounce "the times" and read the guardian. i'm not the spokesman for the paper. i have my criticisms of it. we'll get into some of those opinion -- those. i think bill makes some fair criticisms in the book, which i read. you know, "the times" has certainly made it's share of
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errors in recent years. i think the -- you know, duke, lacrosse coverage was bad. i don't think there's any question about that. actually this is an interesting point too, i don't know many people outside of the "new york times" which defend it, but i don't know many liberals that continue to defend that particular coverage. i think "the times," bill mentioned the story they did about john mccain during the campaign. a story about a relationship, a friendship he had with a female lobbyist, wink, wink. implying the things that you think were being implied. i heard the rumors, as i'm sure you guys heard the rumors in advance of that story being published about what "the times" had and didn't have so on and so forth. there's no question in my mind based on what ended up on the page, they shouldn't have gone
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with that story. it didn't seem like a good judgment, to put it politely. certainly they have made some mistakes. jason blair episode, obviously a black eye. i think there's probably something in general to bill's sense much the papers natural, institutional biases. i want to be careful here about how i phrase this. i think one the reasons that i was asked to do this, and by the way, thank you, fred, for asking me and frank and thank you, it's nice so' you. thanks to st. francis. i think one the reasons that i was asked, while i'm certainly a liberal, there's no question about that. if you read my stuff, i'm a liberal. i'm a critic to some extent of liberalism as well. i have been critical over the years to some extent of multiculturism, identity politics on the left, that's my
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first book was -- there it is. can we just show it. it's an old book now. i actually -- i don't really agree with 100% of it anymore. >> i played a role in shaping his ideas. >> i'm sure he's going to quote me against me in his rebuttal. that's fine. i have been somewhat critical of multiculturism from a liberal perspective. that perspective being in a nutshell that when we emphasize differences to such a great extent, we can forget about the things that we have in common. and we can lose a sense of a common society. in which we fight for and argue for a common good. and i become -- in things i've written, not just in that book, but since in the american prospect, i've become associated with that view. i've been attacked quite
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harshly, and by some on the left who disagree with my views. so i think that's one of the reasons that i'm here. i will say that i do disagree with bill about the imperative of diversity and of large institutions dealing with diversity and trying to come to terms with it. in this united states, in this new york, in this city, it is afterall, "the new york times," it's not the, you know, kansas times. bill hear -- bill harkens back to "new york times," and there's no question the rosenthal error was a good one for the paper and one that in which the paper has much to be proud of. and there's much to respect. but i'm inherently suspicious of golden ages.
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upon inspection, they weren't always that golden. they weren't golden for everybody. and i don't want to sound like a politically correct hectoring uncle. but some of these things are just true, folks. some of these things are just true. in the great glory days, that bill invokes, the fact is that if you walked around "the new york times" news room in those days, 1967 or something, it was 98% men and 99% white. no, all right. that's how it was. but that wasn't appropriate for the world as it changed, as it progressed. it wasn't appropriate. i don't think anybody could seriously defend that now. "the times" had to embrace diversity. it had to embrace the idea that it needed to hire more women, more african-americans, latinos,
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and so on. it had to do this. now the young sulzberger. which he pinched, the young sulzberger emphasized this above pretty much every other value. maybe that was over emphasis, maybe he was a little bit too much of a zealot about it. maybe other values and other standards should have gotten more attention from him. i don't know. but on balance, he was certainly right to emphasize this. especially as i said before, in this city as multihued as this city is, and as diverse as this city is, "the times" had to make this change. i can tell you and many here will remember that the metropolitan section of "the
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times" it didn't really cover or bother to cover the black communities and the latino communities very much at all. and this had to change. and it changed. and the change has come with some downside. and all change comes with some downside. nothing in this world is all good or all bad. and there have been somic -- some excesses and mistakes. they had to make the change. on balance, it's far better, far better that they make an attempt to cover these communities, not only here in new york, but nationally. i don't believe, you know, you read bill's book and, you know, there's example after example after example and there's like 200 examples in the book of allege
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allegeedly egregious things the paper has done. what a jeremiah, what a list of horrible sins. step back and think. he's talking about 200 stories, over a period of 20 years. 20 years in which the newspaper has probably produced 365 editions, 50 byline stories a day, what's that 18,000 stories a year, 360,000 stories. subtract out the business section and some of these other things. but i don't think that the [inaudible] if i may lapse into french that bill produces is as big of an indictment as he suggests that it is. "the times" is reflecting changes and arguments and
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tensions in society that not only "the times" is grappling with, but many, many institutions are gapping with, and are grappling with, you know, tremendous difficulty. the country has changed. the culture has changed. and i think a lot of this change has been for the good. i think most people think that most of this change has been for the good. there are people who think that most of this change has not been for the good. you have a section in the book though, where you -- where you are discussing "the times" coverage of gays and you criticize, or seem to criticize a story or series of stories about gay adoption. i don't know -- i don't think -- i'm asking this rhetorically, you don't actually have to answer this. i don't think you are on the side of saying that gay people aren't equipped to be good parents or don't have the right
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to be good parents, but it seemed like you were saying that in the book. well, that's a judgment -- how should a newspapers, how should an objective news column handle that issue? should it give equal weight to both sides of that argument? i think that's a close call. i don't think it's absolutely clear that you should give equal weight to both sides of that argument. should "the times" give equal weight to bull connor in 1964? well, i don't know. you know, i'm not sure that's -- i'm not sure that's the role of the newspaper. the newspaper has a civic role to play. bill quoted dwight mcdonald, it was a good quote. what was it? the principal point of contact with the real world. >> for his generation
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represented the principal point of contact with the real world. >> dwight didn't have that many points of contact. [laughter] >> are you saying he was light in the loafers? >> i knew him is what i'm saying he touched the ground with one toe. >> treaded on the ground lightly. >> fair enough. >> i think "the times" was that in those days. but in those days, "the times" was occupied a much, much larger space in the journalistic universe, in the civic universe than it occupied today. this is another point that i'd make that isn't as necessarily a direct rebuttal of bill, but it's a point that i think is very important to keep in mind as we have any discussion about the media in the united states today.
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there's no more oracle in our media culture. that's long gone. it's disbursed the power and the influence is spread around. fred said, you know, "huffington post" worth $315 million according to american online today. "the daily beast" bought "newsweek" not the other way around. a two-year-old bought them. there's no more walter cronkite would say he went over to vietnam and looked at it with his own eyes and decided it was unwinnable, and within two weeks, public opinion went from 60%, 64 or 65% in support of the war to about 40% in support of the war. because of one man, 25%. i've looked at the numbers. it's very stark. it's also around the time of the
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ted. but i think we can credit cronkite more than not. :


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